Digital Ears

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Your Hearing

A complex organ; Ear consists of three regions, the outer, A) The middle and B) The inner ear.& C) The Auditory nerve in the inner ear transmits the information to the brain for processing. The auricle, the auditory canal and the eardrum are the parts of Outer ear. The auricle acts as a funnel in gathering the sound waves and passes through the auditory canal and the eardrum.

An air-filled cavity which contains the smallest bones in the human body - the malleus, incus and stapes forms the middle ear. These are connected to the eardrum on one side, and on the other side to a thin membrane-covered opening on the wall of the inner ear. The middle ear is also connected to the throat via the Eustachian tube which keeps the air pressure in the middle ear equal to that of the surrounding environment.

In the inner ear the auditory input is processed by the cochlea, while information affecting balance is processed by the semicircular canals. Along the entire length of the fluid filled cochlea there are tiny hair cells. These hair cells are bent when the fluid is displaced by sound waves passed on by the middle ear bones. This triggers a chemical response which activates the corresponding nerve endings. These then transmit the message to the area of the brain in charge of interpreting auditory input.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Conductive Hearing Loss:

This type of hearing loss occurs when sound waves cannot effectively travel through the outer or middle ear. It is usually caused by a blockage or damage to the ear canal, eardrum, or the three small bones in the middle ear (ossicles). Common causes of conductive hearing loss include ear infections, wax buildup, perforated eardrum, or abnormalities of the ossicles. Conductive hearing loss is often treatable and may be temporary.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the auditory nerve that connects the cochlea to the brain. It is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and is often caused by aging (presbycusis), noise exposure, genetic factors, infections, head trauma, or certain medications. Sensorineural hearing loss is generally irreversible, but hearing aids or cochlear implants can help improve hearing in many cases.

Mixed Hearing Loss:

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, affecting both the outer/middle ear and the inner ear or auditory nerve. It occurs when there are issues in more than one part of the auditory system. For instance, a person may have both a damaged eardrum and damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve. It's essential to seek medical attention if you or someone you know experiences hearing loss, as early diagnosis and intervention can lead to better outcomes and improve quality of life. An audiologist can conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine the type and extent of hearing loss and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Why it‘s important to detect hearing loss early?

Loss of hearing is a gradual process that creeps up unnoticed over the years. Experts estimate that on average, hearing problems are detected and treated seven to ten years too late.

During this time the brain forgets how to deal with lost acoustic information –like a muscle that is not exercised. Speech comprehension becomes more difficult, particularly in demanding situations which can lead to conditions such as dementia. This is where hearing aids can help.

For this reason, experienced ENT specialists and audiologists always recommend hearing devices early on when people are becoming hard of hearing. The most important step is the first: Act in good time and get sound advice from an audiologist.

Test Your Hearing

The Hearing tests can be done with different examinations which, when taken together, can determine whether or not a person is suffering from hearing loss, and to what extent and reason for the hearing loss also.

Otoscope is a special instrument used to find out the hearing loss is due to damage to the ear canal or eardrum.

The following are the tests conducted in a closed, sound proof room to determine the nature of your hearing loss. The tests will be conducted with out any discomfort to the person under test.

  • The Pure Tone Test:
  • The hearing health care professional will examine your hearing ability by letting you listen to a number of different pure tones through a pair of headphones.

    Speech Test involves you in making you to repeat certain words spoken in different volumes. This is also similar to the pure tone test but Both the ears will be tested individually. When you hear a tone, you have to press a button. The test results - illustrated as a graph or an audiogram - show your hearing threshold, i.e. the softest sounds you are able to hear at different frequencies (Hz).

    Bone conduction test is also carried out to measure your ability to hear pure tones, by placing a small bone conductor behind your ear. In this test the bone conductor sends tiny vibrations to the inner ear instead of audible sounds. The results of these vibrations give another indication of your hearing threshold and are also shown as an audiogram.

    These two tests provide a better indication of which particular parts of the ear are responsible for the hearing loss.

  • The Speech Test:
  • Your ability to recognize the speech can be measured with this test.
    Speech Test involves you in making you to repeat certain words spoken in different volumes. This is also similar to the pure tone test but the difference is without tones.
    This test result will helps to understand how well you hear and understand ordinary conversation. The result of the test is also an audiogram to determine your speech reception threshold.

  • The Middle Ear Test:
  • The reaction of the ear drum to varying air pressure in the ear canal is tested by this middle ear test. While listening to different sounds the air pressure inside your ear is increased or decreased and it’s sensed by placing a small probe into the ear.
    As the degree of your ear drum sensitivity of the ear drum determines your hearing ability; this test, in conjunction with the pure tone test and the speech test, helps the examiner to determine the extent of your hearing loss.

  • Audiogram:
  • The audiogram graphically describes your hearing ability and which can be described as a picture of your sense of hearing and it’s the outcome of different tests conducted by the hearing health care professional after a number of tests. It infers you whether you have a hearing loss or not.

    The red and blue band in the audiogram shows the right and left ear hearing thresholds and the results may also differs.

    The audiogram pasteurizes your hearing ability by showing your hearing threshold at various frequencies. Hearing threshold is an indication of how soft a sound may get before it is inaudible. A hearing threshold of between 0 and 25 dB is considered normal.

    The vertical axis of the audiogram represents sound volume or intensity which is measured in decibels (dB). The more one moves down the axis, the louder the sound becomes. This corresponds to turning up the volume on a radio. Zero decibel at the top of the axis represents the softest sound a person is normally able to hear, and is not an indication that you cannot hear any sounds at all.

    The horizontal axis of the audiogram represents sound frequency or pitch measured in Hertz (Hz). Sound frequency increases gradually the further one moves to the right along the axis. This movement can be compared to playing on the left side of a piano and gradually moving to the right side where the tone becomes more and more high-pitched. Frequencies between 500 Hz and 3000 Hz are most commonly used during ordinary conversation.

    In General, the more markings below 25 dB or more, at frequencies which are normally used in conversation, the more difficult it is to hear what is being said. And in situations with a lot of background noise it will often be even more difficult to hear properly.

    Based on your information related to your personal feedback and the with the result of the above mentioned test the hearing health professionals can determine the course of action.

Hearing Loss in Children & The Test Methods

If you think a hearing loss may be present in your child the first step is to ask your medical practitioner to refer your child for an audio logical assessment. This assessment will determine whether a hearing impairment exists and to what degree. No child is too young to receive a thorough hearing evaluation and today's technology allows testing of newborns.
  • Hearing Screening:
  • This is testing which can be carried out at any age. Hearing screening usually shows simply that a child's hearing is not at a normal level. If a child fails a screening test, he / she will be referred for a more detailed assessment. In recent years the importance of hearing screening for infants has been recognized. There is now legislation in many countries recommending that all newborns are screened for hearing loss. When hearing loss is identified early appropriate support measures also can begin sooner.

  • Behavioral Hearing Tests:
  • These tests usually require the child to respond to soft sounds in some way (verbally, by picture pointing, raising the hand or through a "game"). These tests can be fun and for infants and toddlers, a head-turn response to a test signal is usually the best and most reliable testing method.

  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR):
  • For newborns or infants and children who cannot reliably perform the behavioral test procedures, other more objective tests, such as ABR, can help determine hearing abilities. Clicks or tonal "pips" are sounded in an infant's ears through earphones. The ABR provides information about the function of the auditory pathway to the level of the brainstem. The response to the clicks or tones are recorded, providing an estimate of hearing sensitivity.

  • OtoAcoustic Emissions (OAEs):
  • These tests provide a unique way to examine the function of the cochlea. Sounds are sent to the child's ear with a small loudspeaker. A microphone records the response to the sound from the cochlea (known as an emission). This offers valuable information about the sensory hair cells in the cochlea.

  • Tympanometry (acoustic immittance testing):
  • This test helps determine how well the eardrum and middle ear are working. A gentle puff of air is delivered into the child's ear and the amount the eardrum moves in response to change in air pressure is recorded. If the eardrum does not move, for example, it could mean there is fluid behind the eardrum and otitis media with effusion may be present

Digital Ears Hearing Systems

Digital Ears offers a complete range of High Tech Digital hearing instruments from conventional air-conduction hearing aids to bone-conduction hearing devices that fit and provide satisfactory results for our client’s needs.

Preferneces and expectation: Each individual is unique with various factors and requirements, there is no one-size-fits-all! Digital ears audiologists take time to capture key in-depth sessions with you to learn more about your lifestyle, your expectations, your personal preferences, your age, and your thoughts on any previous experiences with hearing aids. Your hearing test results, along with this information, will help the professional pull together some options for you to review.

Transparent Recommendations: Following the hearing assessment, we provide transparent and straightforward recommendations for hearing aid options. Our goal is to ensure you have a clear understanding of the benefits and features of each model, empowering you to make an informed decision.

Follow-Up Care & Support: Our commitment to your hearing health extends well beyond the initial fitting. We offer regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments & services. Our team is always available to address any questions or concerns you may have. With our personalized approach, state-of-the-art technology, and ongoing support, we are dedicated to providing hearing care that exceeds your expectations.